Kansas City’s NFL Draft exceeded economic-impact estimates, city says in new report

The 2023 NFL Draft generated $164.3 million in economic impact, according to city officials.

In data compiled by Visit KC, the city’s economic development organization devoted to tourism and marketing, the NFL Draft also produced large numbers for tax revenue, TV viewership and community engagement.

“One of the biggest takeaways is, our city can host big events,” said Kathy Nelson, president of Visit KC and the Kansas City Sports Commission.

The April 27-29 NFL Draft was one of the largest events in the city’s history, attracting an estimated 312,000 to the three-day football festival at Union Station and the National World War I Museum and Memorial.

The Visit KC economic-impact figures include $108.8 million in direct spending and $55.5 million in indirect spending. Some 60% of the direct spending was produced through accommodations and 18% through food and beverage, according to Visit KC.

Kansas City invested in the event, spending $3 million from the city’s Convention and Tourism Fund. The sports commission raised additional money through corporate partnerships.

The draft produced $11.2 million in local taxes and $4.8 million in state taxes, according to Visit KC.

Before the event, Nelson told the city council that the draft could bring $125 million in economic impact and $10 million in taxes.

Chiefs president Mark Donovan, who once served as the NFL’s senior director for marketing and sales, said he knew Kansas City would put its best foot forward.

“I wanted to show off Kansas City to the National Football League,” Donovan said. “Everybody knows about Arrowhead, and how special it is. This was an opportunity to show the kind of support fans will bring to an event like this.”

The draft attracted huge numbers for television audience on the ABC and ESPN networks and was the most engaging and viewed draft yet on NFL social media, with 875 million impressions, 39 million engagements and 230 million social views.

Visit KC said that from April 27-30, “Kansas City” was mentioned in relation to the draft nearly 35 million times through print, online, television and radio outlets.

“As a community, we cannot underestimate the impact of tens of millions of people learning about Kansas City through this event,” Nelson said. “Whether someone chooses to come with friends for a visit or relocates their family here, our businesses — large and small — continue seeing unprecedented opportunity from Kansas City’s reputation as a welcoming and dynamic destination.”

Also, some 1,200 people worked 2,500 shifts in the weeks leading up to and following the draft. Women and minority-owned businesses accounted for about half of the 25 onsite food vendors, all of whom were local. Those businesses generated $1.12 million in sales, Visit KC said.

More than 68,000 pounds of beverages, meals, packages snacks were donated to Harvester’s Food Bank and Pete’s Garden. Two dozen non-profits received hundreds of thousands in donated materials.

Not all area businesses thrived during the draft, however. Some near the draft site didn’t experience the foot traffic they’d hope for, and others were hampered by closed roadways and high parking prices.

But Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas called the NFL Draft in KC “a resounding success,” noting, “Kansas City has proved once again what our community has known for some time: Kansas City is the nation’s premier sports city.”